This morning was beautiful. My two-year old son, Tommy, and I went for a walk to enjoy the spring weather. As we started off, we encountered a cheeky bird that sang proudly from a telephone wire. I have no idea what type of bird he was. He was nearly the size of a robin, with a black throat, creamy lemon breast and a brown back. His song was beautiful and chipper. We paused to watch him throat his wild calls. In that moment I realized that I was listening - a skill I knew how to do in my younger, more carefree days, but had somehow forgotten. I needed to relearn how. So we set off again and I was determined that I would not only listen, but that I would also see.
Our neighborhood borders the country, sharing a long, straight road that disappears into the purple, white-capped mountains. I decided to head down this road to check on what I like to call our "local homesteads" and to see what they were up to.
The first house was white and sprawling, a small leafing tree sheltering the doorstep. A mini trailer-looking house serves as a chicken coop. We could hear invisible chickens clucking and roosters crowing. The house sits on about an acre and it seems devoted to the chickens with good fences protecting them from the road.
The next house is a large two-story brick and stone farm house with a long porch. Their skinny strip of garden next to the road has been tilled, waiting for the plants that will soon be growing there. Their man-made pool has its waterfall running, creating the false sense of a trickling brook nearby. It's a pleasant sound. On their lawn sits rusting old farm machinery from antique times and a ramshackle barn shelters a red tractor that's seen better days. Their buttermilk lab stares at us from behind the fence. We pause and wave 'Hello.' The melancholy dog sits and stares. He looks like he needs a good rub on the head, but we continue on.
At this point, the countryside opens up to green fields and plowed black cropland. Horses lounge lazily in the golden sun and we roll up to a small pen of cows. We stop and exchange glances with a warm, brown cow. Birds dart in and out of the pen. They remind me of sandpipers with shorter beaks. I still don't know my Utah birds and I suddenly become homesick for the bluejays and cardinals of the midwest. A large, spotted steer rumbles with a bored "moo" and we smile. The cool breeze brings us the smell of sweet grass, hay and manure. It sounds strange, but the perfume makes me giddy.
Our way back faces into the sun. Clouds drift across the blue sky like shreds of silk. Everywhere trees are blooming their rosy milk blossoms and tart green leaves. I slow my pace and soak it all in. Today, I am happy. I need to watch and listen more often.